Updated on January 10, 2022 by Sarina
Let me turn fortune teller for you – I see in my cards that you have just started learning belly dancing after being inspired by Shakira’s gorgeous hips don’t lie sways. Am I wrong? Fine! Then maybe you just want to dress as a belly dancer for the fun of it, without wanting to do anything with the dancing moves.
Funning aside, What do the real Belly dancers wear ? What do you wear if you want to look like a belly dancer ?
To look like a belly dancer, you have to have all the paraphernalia of the part. Nothing less, nothing more.
You have a choice of buying the total costume for belly dancing called the Bedleh – this will have the usual beaded bra top, hip belt, long skirt/pants or You can DIY and assemble all the parts yourself. It is not so difficult, considering many people do that.
Belly Dance Outfit -Main elements
1 Belly Dance pants
These are loose pants – usually tightened and gathered at the ankle with elastic or drawstring.Other names for harem pants are Chalwar (Iran), libas (Egypt), Shaksheer (Turkey), Dimije ( Bulgaria)
You can find a sewing pattern to make belly dance pants here.
2 Belly dance Skirts
The long belly dance skirts will be made of a flowy fabric and will usually have a long slit from the middle of the thigh which aids in dancing. They will be colorful and adorned with beads/sequins. Usually it is a circle skirt construction. Mermaid skirts are also used.
Or just take some chiffon fabric and make an elastic waist skirt with it, with a number of long slits. You can wear leggings under the skirt for modesty.
Crop tops or choli blouse (Sari blouse) or glittery bralettes are worn as the top for the pants/skirts for belly dancing.
You can change your bra into a belly dance top by attaching sequins or beads.You can buy a push-up bra and cover it in matching fabric and then attach beads/sequins and such glittery embellishments.
A net fabric sleeve added to the bralette/choli can turn it into a show stopper.Some use a Ghawazee vest over the bralette.
Hip scarf/Sarongs are tied over the belly dance pants /skirts. The hip scarf will be shorter than a sarong. They will usually have fringes on the edges that swing as you dance and will be made of glittery flowy (and usually lightweight) fabric.They are fastened at the front or at the side with a brooch.
5 Hip Belts
Coin belts are favorites as hip belts – Trims with metallic coins are attached on the edges of the hip belt. If not, the hip belts will be adorned with beads/beaded fringes, tassels.
6 Beledi Dress / Kaftans
Sometimes a one piece costumes are used for belly dancing. Beledi is a one piece costume used so. Kaftan are also used by some for belly dancing.
Jewelry forms a very important part of a belly dancing outfit. They compliment the costume. But it is better not to overdo with lots of unnecessary jewelry to remain classy and not garish.
Necklaces, pendant earrings, toe rings, giant finger rings, all in ethnic fashion are used as jewelry other than the hip belt. Rings, bracelets with danglers can adorn the arms. Anklets can be worn on the foot – they have jingles which chime when you dance.
Belly button rings are added for additional fun. Jeweled pins are used as fasteners, functional and decorative. Arm bands decorated with chains, coins or pendants also give you that distinctive belly dancer look.
8 Headbands or turbans
Hair is often covered in either a headband or a turban. Headbands keep the hair away from the face. Either a simple or elaborate headband or headpiece can be used depending on the dance/costume. It is the tribal belly dancers who use turbans instead of headbands.
Some prefer to dance without shoes. But when shoes are worn they are usually in a metallic shade (gold or silver) matching the beads in the costume.The Turkish slippers with the toe curled upwards, embellished with tassels and embroidery is the regular belly dance shoes
Whatever shoes you wear, Turkish slippers or simple ballet shoes or plumps with heels, you need to have some glitter on them to make them festive enough for belly dancing. You can embellish your shoes with glitter, sequins or glittery beads.
10 Other Embellishments
Coins and chains are one of the most frequently used embellishment on belly dancer costumes. Beaded patches with glittery beads can be added to the belly dance costume. Small mirrors (Shisha ), trims embellished with rhinestones, brocade ribbons etc are added to the costume to make it more exotic than it already is.
Temporary tattoos, bindis are attached on the body to further enhance the belly dance costume. Head pieces or braids or even wigs are added to make the hair long and suitable for a belly dancer.